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Yahoo Throws More Love Twitter's Way

Yahoo is building on its recent moves to integrate Twitter feeds into News search results with today's announcement of direct integration of relevant tweets into Web search page results for hot topics. The new feature is set to go live today throughout the U.S.

The news follows moves by both Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to embrace the so-called real-time Web by incorporating relevant tweets into their search results.

Last month, Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) rolled out a shortcut tab for Twitter results from the popular micro-blogging service, related to news stories. Yahoo also added tabs for Photos and Videos.

"We're continuing to push that innovation," Larry Cornett, vice president of consumer products at Yahoo, told InternetNews.com. "We're very interested in in bringing real-time information to Web search that maintains relevance and is directly integrated with the results consumers are after."

In an online demo, Cornett showed how searches for such terms as "Afghanistan Twitter" and "Tiger Woods Twitter" showed a long list of relevant and recent tweets. Tweets still come up on the first page if you don't include 'Twitter' in the search phrase, though mixed with more traditional results. Yahoo said it's selecting tweets from the top most popular "buzzing" topics to show in the results page.

Cornett said there's a lot of science behind the algorithms Yahoo uses to get the freshest, most relevant tweets while minimizing duplication and spam. "It would have been very easy to put in a block tweets that match a keyword, that's something we could have done a long time ago," said Cornett. "But retweeted information is not what people are looking for."

Google rolled out its own plans to integrate Twitter and other real-time results at an event earlier this week. Microsoft also showed off a beta just last week of its expanded use of Twitter in search results and also Twitter integrated with online maps.

In a nod to non-techie users who may not even know what Twitter is -- really, such people exist -- Yahoo includes a "What is Twitter?" info link next to the results.

"The age of the tweets will vary, some will be a minute old, and others may be hours old. Our goal is to choose interesting Twitter content that is relevant to your query and complements other search results you find on the page," said Ivan Davtchev and Shiv Ramamurthi of the Yahoo Search team in a blog post announcing the release. "By presenting the latest discussion on Twitter about buzzing topics, we are bringing you a wider variety of voices on the Web."

While a number of startups have been offering Twitter and feeds from other real-time sources in results for some time, Cornett said the volume of traffic on Twitter finally reached a point with Yahoo was ready to jump in. "And there's enough science on our side to provide more than raw feeds from Twitter," he said. "For the average user, who may not know what Twitter is, a raw feed can be overwhelming."